DLNR responds to Keauhou lawsuit


Keauhou Bay isn’t too shallow to accommodate planned expanded use there, several proposed new moorings won’t prevent Keauhou Canoe Club from operating in the bay and the Department of Land and Natural Resources isn’t in violation of Chapter 343, the state statute that requires environmental assessments for state projects.

Those were just some of the denials DLNR made in its response to Keauhou Canoe Club’s lawsuit, filed in December, about the department’s plan to add moorings to the bay. The state filed its response Friday afternoon.

Deputy Attorney General Daniel Morris, in the state’s response argued several standard defenses in cases in which a person or entity sues the state, including sovereign immunity — the 11th Amendment protects states from some liability in some situations.

Morris said the final defense in the response is also a standard response to lawsuits against the state. That defense said that the state “is not liable to plaintiff for any claim based upon the failure to enforce or the adequacy of enforcement of statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations.”

Keauhou Canoe Club filed the lawsuit after DLNR moved ahead with plans to increase the number of moorings in Keauhou Bay from nine to 17. The bay isn’t big enough to accommodate that many moorings, the lawsuit said, and the work in the bay triggers the need for an environmental assessment on several counts. Projects conducted within the shoreline, projects using state or county funds and projects within designated historical areas are all typically required to complete an environmental assessment.

The response to the lawsuit also stated the canoe club lacks standing to bring the suit and failed to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing the lawsuit, and that the Circuit Court lacks jurisdiction to hear it.

The state did not yet respond to the canoe club’s motion for summary judgment. The state has until mid-May to do so. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for that month.